Attorney General Greg Smith has said he will be fixing the previous government’s “anti-bikie” legislation, knocked down by the High Court in June. The Court found the law was invalid because under it a Supreme Court judge who “declared” an organisation to be criminal did not have to give his or her reasons. Mr Smith has told me: “I am advised this problem can be corrected”, which could be bad news for members of bikie and other criminal groups.

The Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act was introduced by the Labor government after the March 2009 brawl between Commanchero and Hells Angels at Sydney Airport left one man dead.  In essence it is a targeted consorting law, which means members of a declared criminal organisation can no longer associate with each other. Consorting laws are frowned on by civil libertarians but have had some impressive results – they were largely responsible for wiping out Sydney’s cocaine trade in the early 1930s.

The Police Force applied to have the Hells Angels declared under the law and a Supreme Court judge agreed. This decision was challenged by Derek Wainohu, then president of the Sydney chapter of the Hells Angels. By a six-one majority, the High Court supported the challenge.

However, it considered only one of the grounds presented by Mr Wainhou’s lawyers. It should be noted that if the government fixes only one part of the law, other parts could still be open to challenge on other grounds.

It seems we will have to wait some time to see what happens. Mr Smith told us, “We won’t be racing to pass any legislation. That was what happened with the bill that was declared invalid by the High Court. It was rushed through parliament in one day.”

Fair enough. But something needs to be done. Some experts believe that at the moment the laws available to fight organised crime are simply inadequate. For example, the distinguished journalist and organised crime expert Evan Whitton says, “Present laws can only put away an occasional low level blue collar organised criminal.”

They believe Australia needs better laws, maybe even something like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which America has had since 1970. RICO was drafted by G. Robert Blakey, now a professor at Notre Dame Law School, Indiana. Last week he told me, “The American and Australian criminal justice systems were designed for street crime, such as murder, rape and robbery: single crime, single perp, single day and place. That’s hardly the case with organised crime. We need to update our system.”

RICO permits someone in a criminal enterprise that has committed at least two of a large number of specified crimes within a 10-year period, to be convicted of being an organised criminal and given a long jail sentence. Thus the bosses of groups such as the mafia and outlaw motorcycle gangs can be jailed even if they distance themselves from the crimes their organisations commit.

But even with RICO, the fight never stops. “You can’t eliminate organised crime any more than you can eliminate garbage in a major city,” Professor Blakey pointed out. “It will overwhelm you if you do not keep taking it out.”

RICO has been a big success in America. Australia is still waiting for something equally effective.